What is asbestos?

  • The mineral asbestos is found in rocks as a natural component. The strength, flexibility, and fire resistance of this material made it an ideal building material.
  • The majority of asbestos was used in the construction industry. It is possible that your property may contain asbestos if it was built or renovated before 2000.
  • Asbestos in building materials was banned in 2000 after it was found that breathing in its fibres could cause cancer and lung diseases.

In this example, we share Asbestos found by Carpenter Surveyors in a loft in May 2023. This enabled the buyer to take thousands off the price of the property and demonstrates how essential a survey is.

Asbestos - Carpenter Surveyors

Five important things you need to know

  • It is highly unlikely that asbestos was used in your home if it was built after 1999
  • While asbestos should be handled carefully, it usually doesn’t pose a problem unless it has been disturbed or damaged. No amount of asbestos is considered safe though!
  • Generally, it won’t cause a problem if left alone and in good condition since it cannot release fibers
  • Asbestos should not be disturbed (things like drilling, sawing, scrubbing, and sanding can disturb it).
  • In most cases, surveyors can spot asbestos before selling or purchasing. However an asbestos expert may sometimes need to be called. This will put you in a strong position to negotiate if purchasing, or enable you to rectify the issue before sale.

Are there any places in a home where asbestos might be present?

  • A wide range of building materials used asbestos. You can learn more about common materials containing asbestos at www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/common-materials.htm
  • The material was used in many different places during the building and improvement of houses. Visit www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/building.htm to learn where asbestos can be found
  • There are lots of places where you can find asbestos material in your home as it was used to mix with things like cement and plaster.

Examples include:

  • Insulation boards between wall partitions
  • Flooring (PVC tiles)
  • Sprayed coating and textured paints on ceilings and walls (Artex)
  • Cement products like gutters, water tanks and rainwater pipes
  • Roof tiles, panelling and exterior walls

Asbestos - Carpenter Surveyors

If you suspect that your home contains asbestos, what should you do?

  • Get in touch with a removal expert and a further asbestos survey can be carried out.
  • An asbestos-containing material can’t be identified by its appearance alone. Often, asbestos is added to disguise fibres. A specialist laboratory sometimes must test the material in order to confirm it contains asbestos. If you think something contains asbestos, do not remove or disturb it.
  • If asbestos is found in your home, what happens?

Sometimes the removal process has more risk than leaving the it where it is.

When a survey report says asbestos has been found but in good condition and not likely to cause a problem it may be coated or cover it with special coatings or coverings. As a result, no fibres can escape from the material.

In general, asbestos will be removed if:

  • Deteriorating, damaged, or crumbling
  • When its type, location, and condition indicate it poses a risk
  • Where it’s likely to get damaged or is frequently used in the home

A professional will often leave asbestos in place if it’s:

  • In good condition
  • There are no problems with its type, location, or condition
  • It’s in an area that isn’t used much or is difficult to reach

Asbestos in the home